Saturday, January 09, 2010

How Many More Times

You'll have to excuse me. I'm as freaked out as I think I've been in a long time.

I became very squeamish when the wife's late brother had an operation on his brain tumour. Until that point in my life, I'd pretty much seen gruesome and shrugged it off; but looking at the back of his head at what looked like a poorly repaired axe wound, I suddenly felt my knees go a little wobbly, my stomach did a 180 degree turn and I excused myself and went out the front of Radcliffe Infirmary and had a fag; several, in fact and a lot of hyperventilating. This was a new and wholly unpleasant experience.

From that point on, I started to get really bad. It was like I'd activated this wuss button and I couldn't turn it back off. In fact, over the last few years, I have become quite renowned for my inability to look at anything that might upset me. I just can't do it.

So, imagine the wife's surprise while we're in Sainsbury's this evening, when she returns to the trolley to find me cradling a man on the floor, blood everywhere...

Shopping had been uneventful, slightly disappointing and almost over, when I found myself looking at the latest new vegetarian release from the dead wife of a famous Beatle. Because I tend to wander round supermarkets with my head up my arse, I wasn't really paying any attention to what was going on around me, so when I heard someone drop a shit load of change on the floor and saw some of it rolling in my direction, I just carried on surveying Mrs McCartney's latest wares.

It wasn't until I heard a young girl shriek, "Daddy!" at the top of her voice that I looked round. Lying less than five feet from me was this man, possibly about the same age as me, sprawled on the floor having what looked like a massive fit. I'll be honest, my first thought was GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM HERE, especially when I saw a Tarrantinoesque pool of blood spreading away from his head...

But then and this all happened in what must have been seconds, I looked at all the other people just standing there, gawping and shuffling backwards and I yelled, "Someone call an ambulance" and my first aid training sprang into action; I was on my knees, telling the man it was okay, that someone was here and an ambulance was being called, that he was okay. I then yelled again at a man standing there holding his mobile - I didn't swear. It suddenly hit me that the man was having a seizure, so even though I had my gloves on, I opened his mouth to make sure he wasn't choking on his tongue - he wasn't; but his breathing was getting very laboured and I was very worried that he was having either a massive heart attack or, more likely, a stroke. All I could hear was this poor little girl screaming and I thought, shit, I need to get him into the recovery position. And I couldn't remember what to do! I kept telling the man he was going to be alright; I could hear things happening behind me and decided to try and put him in recovery... and then I saw the blood again. I mean, lots of blood and still spreading - now under the battery display - and I suddenly felt incredibly light-headed. I was losing it.

Standing next to me - all I can remember is he had a red top on and curly black hair - this guy asks me if I'm okay or something like that, because I have to look at him again and ask him what he said. "I'm a medic, is there anything you need me to do?"
"Take over, please. I don't think I have a fucking clue what I'm doing and I think I'm going to faint." He helped me up and took over and I sloped back to the trolley where Paula was waiting. She expressed an incredible amount of amazement, especially in light of the fact of the blood and marvelled at the fact that I was a first-aider. I also saw a lot of love and admiration in her eyes as I wobbled round and as far away from the scene as we could get.

I'm sorry, I could have waited around to see if he was all right, but by the time we got through the checkouts the ambulance and paramedics had arrived. This was about 6pm. It's 2½ hours later and I'm still shaking.

I hope more than anything that little girl gets to give her daddy a big cuddle later and that whatever happened was something exacerbated by the bang to his head. I really, really hope so.

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